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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by: J.K. Rowling
Review by: Tina Morgan

Before I begin this review, I have a confession of sorts. I had no intentions of reading this book. You see, I'm not the type of person who follows a crowd. The more hype that surrounded the series, the less I wanted to read any of it. However, my eight-year-old daughter asked to see the movie. Then she begged. Then she pleaded. What can I say? I surrendered and took her.

The movie surprised me. The characters were entertaining and the plot well developed. So after many of my fantasy reading friends assured me that the novel was worth reading, I gave in to pressure and read it. Within the week, I'd finished all four novels.

The series develops nicely and the writing flows smoothly but reading all four novels in a week was no easy task. I lost a lot of sleep that week, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Ms. Rowling really does not need me to give her another glowing review of her books. They're selling quite well without my help. There's a reason for her success. The characters are likeable. Harry, Hermoine and Ron grow with each novel. Something that has some fans feeling left behind, but as a writer, I think the progression is logical and well thought out.

There are a few things I would like to point out that aren't so complimentary. To her legions of fans, please do not send me hate mail. The purpose of a literary review is to find flaws (and virtues) in an established story so that we might grow as writers by learning from other's examples.

Perhaps the biggest issue most writers will have with The Sorcerer's Stone is the amount of 'passive voice'. In workshops, writing classes and magazine articles, we are constantly being warned not to used 'passive voice' and how we will never get a publisher to consider our work if it's not 'active'. While The Sorcerer's Stone has sold very well despite the heavy use of 'passive voice' it is not the standard by which most new writers are judged. Ms. Rowling manages to pull the reader into the story quickly and the passive sentences aren't very noticeable.

Most of the problems I found in the book were in the plot or characterization.

When the letters from Hogwarts arrive at the Dursley's house, Harry repeatedly makes the mistake of allowing his aunt and uncle to catch him trying to read one. At eleven-years-old and having lived with the Dursleys all his life, I found it hard to believe that Harry wouldn't have been a bit quieter and sneaker about obtaining and reading one of the letters.

Once Hagrid delivers the letter and discovers Harry is ignorant to his wizard background, he still leaves Harry to fend for himself without any explanations. Harry must find his way to platform 9 3/4 without any help. He runs into the Weasley family quite by accident, which is a bit too much of a coincidence for this reader.

Throughout the book, Dumbledore is built up to be a very powerful wizard in the magic community. Yet he plays a very small part in the movie which is inconsistent with the way his character is regarded by the other wizards and students. He also allows Harry a lot of free reign for an eleven-year-old, untrained and uneducated wizard.

Harry is permitted to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas and spring holidays but not over the summer. Knowing how the Dursleys treat him and the fact that they are so adamant about not allowing Harry to know his heritage, it doesn't follow that Dumbledore would return Harry to them. Not even in an attempt to keep Harry's ego from becoming over inflated by his celebrity status in the wizard community.

Which leads me to my final nit. A slight problem with the world building in the story. Throughout the novel, there is never any mention of Christianity, God or the Bible. There are references to Pagan ideas, philosophies and holidays. In my opinion, it would have been more consistent for the school to observe Yule or Winter Solstice instead of Christmas.

Over all the flaws are minor. The story is very enjoyable to read. It's not a literary great, but it's a lot of fun. It's something to consider as writers. Are you trying to create the next literary masterpiece? Become the next Hemmingway? Or do you want to write something a lot of people will enjoy and talk about, like the latest Stephen King novel?

J.K. Rowling creates a delightful world with intrigue, believable characters and fascinating creatures. Her style improves with each novel. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is well worth reading.

You can find her books at

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone fully earns it's
* * * * *. rating.

Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.


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